For the proclamation of the Gospel and the edification of the Body of Christ
His Friends Must Also Die
By Eliseo Apablaza
Where Do you Dwell?
Entering into intimacy with Christ
When John the Baptist saw Jesus he began to give witness of him, saying: Look, the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. However, nothing special seems to occur. The following day, John sees Jesus again, and says: Look, the Lamb of God.
This time, two of John's own disciples hear him and they follow Jesus. John quietly looks on, without doing anything to restrain them. John knows that he must lose so that Jesus may gain. Or, like the gospel says, "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30). John's mission, as the precursor of Christ, was to preach Christ, and persuade all to look at Him and follow Him.
Meanwhile, when Jesus becomes aware that there were people following him, He turns, and asks them: What are you searching for? (1) This is a very direct and interesting question. Yes, why were they following him?
What are you searching for?
On two occasions, Jesus confronts his followers with their true motivations for following Him. On both occasions He was both direct and severe. It was as if He was not interested in them following Him. First, the Lord explains to them the high calling of discipleship:
If any man comes to me, and does not hate his father and mother, his wife, and children, his brothers and sisters - yes, even his own life - he cannot be my disciple...in the same way any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple. (Luke 14:25-26,33).
This means nothing less than to abhor everyone else and give up everything. This was not a popular thing to do. He was not seeking to gain the favor of the people.
On the second occasion, the Lord reveals the inconsistency in the hearts of those following. Immediately after the Lord multiplied the loaves and fish, they wanted to make Him king, and as He slipped away, they searched for him and followed Him, even to the other side of the sea.
Upon finding Him, they asked: Rabbi, when did you get here? The Lord, knowing perfectly what they searched for, told them: You are looking for me, not because you saw miraculous signs but because you ate the loaves and had your fill. (John 6:25-26).
These motivations, as well as the people's questions, and the Lord's answers, are very recurrent; they keep happening, even today.
Many approach the Lord only to be filled, or healed, or protected (as if He were a good luck charm). They only come for this. But the Lord cannot be deceived, for he knows what is in man (John 2:25) and so He confronts us directly with the matter.
Where do you dwell?
John's disciples had, however, a very clear motive. They said to Him: Rabbi, where do you dwell? (2) The Lord told them: Come and you will see...
The Lord does not refuse the "intruders" (because this was an indiscreet question), but invites them to the house where He dwells. Even though He had not called them, He did not refuse them. As usual He said: ... whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37)
However, in one of their discourses, the Lord also told them: You did not choose me, but I chose you. (John 15:16).
How was this fulfilled with those two disciples? Did He choose them, or did they offer themselves? It is not that they offered themselves. The Lord also called them. What is happening is this: the manner of the call was distinct. He troubled their hearts and thereby attracted them to Himself, and they followed. Who could follow Him if He does not call?
So they went and saw where Christ dwelled, and remained with Him that day. In the act of following Him, they manifested concern for his person. In contrast to the multitudes, the disciples were not looking for a hand-out from Jesus; they simply wanted to get to know Him.
What did these men see in Him? Surely in this case there was nothing that had called for special attention. At least, nothing that called for the attention of others. However, they had to have seen something in Jesus, because the following morning, one of them, Andrew, found his brother Simon, and said to him: We have found the Messiah.
Peter was very surprised to hear this news. To tell this to a Jew, however ignorant, was to give the most spectacular news ever heard. For scandal or for enjoyment, it was spectacular. It was the most hoped for news for centuries.
It was all Andrew's discovery. What had he seen that night, what things did he hear from the lips of Jesus, what strange radiance did he see in His face, what accent did he perceive in His words? What was it that caused such a profound burning in his soul? What great thing did he see or hear that caused him to come away speaking in such a way about Jesus?
Andrew does not wait for his brother to recover from the surprise, but rather he immediately took him to Jesus. Surely Peter looked at Him and looked again. He listened attentively, distilling every word, no doubt with some of the same foolish attitude of the country town people, who distrust everyone and everything. But Peter remained with Him. Forever.
It is an honor to be invited
The Lord Jesus came to save all men, but He also came to make disciples. He does not delight so much in those that look to be healed (although He attends to them, because He is merciful and compassionate), but in those that come asking Him where He dwells.
This is what He desired then, and this is what he desires today. He desires that we come to see where he dwells, and that we come to stay with Him forever. Therefore, He also desires that when we have made disciples we should also confront them with the same question that He asked of John's disciples. (What are you searching for?)
Today, multitudes follow Jesus for the same motivations as in the past. Perhaps this is manifested indifferent ways today, but their basic motivations are the same. Unlike the multitudes, Jesus' true disciples of today follow Him with the same motivations as those two disciples. These make up an intimate group who are interested in knowing Him, in contemplating Him, and following Him closely.
We cannot be content with merely forming a sect of 'Christianity', with so much self-interest and inconsistency. They name Christ but only because it forms part of the social 'totem-pole' as a cohesive entity and as a simple underlying foundation of their traditions. It celebrates Him, but would also celebrate whoever would replace Him, as the Hindus celebrate Buda and the Muslims, Mohammed.
That is why we must separate ourselves from that tide, so that we may come to where He dwells, and remain with Him.
Some of us have come, much like those two disciples, not yet knowing who He truly was; we have spoken to Him (sometimes with impertinence, and other times with fear), and He has not refused us. As He brings us and opens His heart to us, it becomes impossible not to love Him.
Perhaps, He has given you the privilege of following Him also. It is also possible that he is causing you to hear His voice. If so, consider it a blessing and follow Him without giving it a second thought. Do not let His voice pass from you, for you will cease to hear it.
Following Him does not depend on one's offer, but on His call.
His call is unmistakable. It could be an almost audible voice, or it could be a voice without words, restlessness, or a desire. However as it happens you will feel it and know that it is He. At that time, you must follow Him to the house where He dwells, because it is an honor that He is bestowing on you.
Jesus is the Lord, and we do not merely choose Him, but rather He chooses all those that go to his dwelling place.
Disciples, not mere followers
Being a 'disciple' is more than being 'one who follows' Him.
On a certain occasion, Peter says to the Lord: We have left all we had to follow you.
The Lord responded: I tell you the truth, no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and in the age to come, eternal life. (Luke 18:29-30).
Peter was inconsistent, arrogant and ambitious (moreover, he denied the Lord), but he forsook everything for Jesus. Yes, Peter forsook everything. So, before we judge him for his reprehensible acts, let us ask ourselves: "how much have we forsaken for the Lord?"
On one occasion, when everyone seemed to be turning back, the Lord said to those closest to Him: You do not want to leave too do you?
Then Peter says: Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Christ, the Holy One of God (John 6:68-69)
Fill-in Your Name
Andrew is the only name we know of, amongst John's two disciples who followed Jesus that day. Who was the other? We do not know.
Here is an anonymous disciple, a vacancy that is waiting for you. Perhaps he may have remained anonymous, so that you could fill your name in there.
(1) This translation appears in the Reina-Valera 1960 used in Chile. (2) Id.